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The Enchanted Castle (Illustrated): Children's Fantasy Classic

The Enchanted Castle (Illustrated): Children's Fantasy Classic

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The Enchanted Castle (Illustrated): Children's Fantasy Classic

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4/5 (17 peringkat)
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305 pages
4 hours
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Dec 25, 2016
ISBN:
9788026872443
Format:
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This carefully crafted ebook: "The Enchanted Castle (Illustrated)" is formatted for your eReader with a functional and detailed table of contents.
The Enchanted Castle is a country estate in the West Country seen through the eyes of three children – Gerald, James and Kathleen, who discover it while exploring during the school holidays. The lake, groves and marble statues, with white towers and turrets in the distance, make a fairy-tale setting, and then in the middle of the maze in the rose garden they find a sleeping fairy-tale princess.
Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) was the author of world famous books for children - the tales of fantastical adventures, journeys back in time and travel to magical worlds.
Penerbit:
Dirilis:
Dec 25, 2016
ISBN:
9788026872443
Format:
Buku

Tentang penulis

Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) was an English writer of children’s literature. Born in Kennington, Nesbit was raised by her mother following the death of her father—a prominent chemist—when she was only four years old. Due to her sister Mary’s struggle with tuberculosis, the family travelled throughout England, France, Spain, and Germany for years. After Mary passed, Edith and her mother returned to England for good, eventually settling in London where, at eighteen, Edith met her future husband, a bank clerk named Hubert Bland. The two—who became prominent socialists and were founding members of the Fabian Society—had a famously difficult marriage, and both had numerous affairs. Nesbit began her career as a poet, eventually turning to children’s literature and publishing around forty novels, story collections, and picture books. A contemporary of such figures of Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame, Nesbit was notable as a writer who pioneered the children’s adventure story in fiction. Among her most popular works are The Railway Children (1906) and The Story of the Amulet (1906), the former of which was adapted into a 1970 film, and the latter of which served as a profound influence on C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. A friend and mentor to George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells, Nesbit’s work has inspired and entertained generations of children and adults, including such authors as J.K. Rowling, Noël Coward, and P.L. Travers.

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The Enchanted Castle (Illustrated) - Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit

The Enchanted Castle

(Illustrated)

Children’s Fantasy Classic

Illustrator: H. R. Millar

e-artnow, 2016

Contact: info@e-artnow.org

ISBN 978-80-268-7244-3

Table of Contents

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

THE HALL IN WHICH THE CHILDREN FOUND THEMSELVES WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN THE WORLD.

TO

MARGARET OSTLER

WITH LOVE FROM

E. NESBIT

Peggy, you came from the heath and moor,

And you brought their airs through my open door;

You brought the blossom of youth to blow

In the Latin Quarter of Soho.

For the sake of that magic I send you here

A tale of enchantments, Peggy dear,

—A bit of my work, and a bit of my heart. . .

The bit that you left when we had to part.

September 25, 1907.

Royalty Chambers, Soho, W.

Chapter I

Table of Contents

There were three of them—Jerry, Jimmy, and Kathleen. Of course, Jerry's name was Gerald, and not Jeremiah, whatever you may think; and Jimmy's name was James; and Kathleen was never called by her name at all, but Cathy, or Catty, or Puss Cat, when her brothers were pleased with her, and Scratch Cat when they were not pleased. And they were at school in a little town in the West of England—the boys at one school, of course, and the girl at another, because the sensible habit of having boys and girls at the same school is not yet as common as I hope it will be some day. They used to see each other on Saturdays and Sundays at the house of a kind maiden lady; but it was one of those houses where it is impossible to play. You know the kind of house, don't you? There is a sort of a something about that kind of house that makes you hardly able even to talk to each other when you are left alone, and playing seems unnatural and affected. So they looked forward to the holidays, when they should all go home and be together all day long, in a house where playing was natural and conversation possible, and where the Hampshire forests and fields were full of interesting things to do and see. Their Cousin Betty was to be there too, and there were plans. Betty's school broke up before theirs, and so she got to the Hampshire home first, and the moment she got there she began to have measles, so that my three couldn't go home at all. You may imagine their feelings. The thought of seven weeks at Miss Hervey's was not to be borne, and all three wrote home and said so. This astonished their parents very much, because they had always thought it was so nice for the children to have dear Miss Hervey's to go to. However, they were jolly decent about it, as Jerry said, and after a lot of letters and telegrams, it was arranged that the boys should go and stay at Kathleen's school, where there were now no girls left and no mistresses except the French one.

It'll be better than being at Miss Hervey's, said Kathleen, when the boys came round to ask Mademoiselle when it would be convenient for them to come; and, besides, our school's not half so ugly as yours. We do have tablecloths on the tables and curtains at the windows, and yours is all deal boards, and desks, and inkiness.

When they had gone to pack their boxes Kathleen made all the rooms as pretty as she could with flowers in jam jars, marigolds chiefly, because there was nothing much else in the back garden. There were geraniums in the front garden, and calceolarias and lobelias; of course, the children were not allowed to pick these.

We ought to have some sort of play to keep us going through the holidays, said Kathleen, when tea was over, and she had unpacked and arranged the boys' clothes in the painted chests of drawers, feeling very grown-up and careful as she neatly laid the different sorts of clothes in tidy little heaps in the drawers. Suppose we write a book.

You couldn't, said Jimmy.

I didn't mean me, of course, said Kathleen, a little injured; I meant us.

Too much fag, said Gerald briefly.

If we wrote a book, Kathleen persisted, "about what the insides of schools really are like, people would read it and say how clever we were."

More likely expel us, said Gerald. No; we'll have an out-of-doors game—bandits, or something like that. It wouldn't be bad if we could get a cave and keep stores in it, and have our meals there.

There aren't any caves, said Jimmy, who was fond of contradicting every one. And, besides, your precious Mamselle won't let us go out alone, as likely as not.

Oh, we'll see about that, said Gerald. I'll go and talk to her like a father.

Like that? Kathleen pointed the thumb of scorn at him, and he looked in the glass.

To brush his hair and his clothes and to wash his face and hands was to our hero but the work of a moment, said Gerald, and went to suit the action to the word.

It was a very sleek boy, brown and thin and interesting-looking, that knocked at the door of the parlour where Mademoiselle sat reading a yellow-covered book and wishing vain wishes. Gerald could always make himself look interesting at a moment's notice, a very useful accomplishment in dealing with strange grown-ups. It was done by opening his grey eyes rather wide, allowing the corners of his mouth to droop, and assuming a gentle, pleading expression, resembling that of the late little Lord Fauntleroy—who must, by the way, be quite old now, and an awful prig.

Entrez! said Mademoiselle, in shrill French accents. So he entered.

Eh bien? she said rather impatiently.

I hope I am not disturbing you, said Gerald, in whose mouth, it seemed, butter would not have melted.

But no, she said, somewhat softened. What is it that you desire?

I thought I ought to come and say how do you do, said Gerald, because of you being the lady of the house.

He held out the newly-washed hand, still damp and red. She took it.

You are a very polite little boy, she said.

Not at all, said Gerald, more polite than ever. I am so sorry for you. It must be dreadful to have us to look after in the holidays.

But not at all, said Mademoiselle in her turn. I am sure you will be very good childrens.

Gerald's look assured her that he and the others would be as near angels as children could be without ceasing to be human.

We'll try, he said earnestly.

Can one do anything for you? asked the French governess kindly.

Oh, no, thank you, said Gerald. We don't want to give you any trouble at all. And I was thinking it would be less trouble for you if we were to go out into the woods all day to-morrow and take our dinner with us—something cold, you know—so as not to be a trouble to the cook.

You are very considerate, said Mademoiselle coldly. Then Gerald's eyes smiled; they had a trick of doing this when his lips were quite serious. Mademoiselle caught the twinkle, and she laughed and Gerald laughed too.

Little deceiver! she said. "Why not say at once you want to be free of surveillance, how you say—overwatching—without pretending it is me you wish to please?"

You have to be careful with grown-ups, said Gerald, "but it isn't all pretence either. We don't want to trouble you—and we don't want you to——"

LITTLE DECEIVER! SHE SAID.

To trouble you. Eh bien! Your parents, they permit these days at woods?

Oh, yes, said Gerald truthfully.

Then I will not be more a dragon than the parents. I will forewarn the cook. Are you content?

Rather! said Gerald. Mademoiselle, you are a dear.

A deer? she repeated—a stag?

"No, a—a chérie, said Gerald—a regular A1 chérie. And you shan't repent it. Is there anything we can do for you—wind your wool, or find your spectacles, or——?"

He thinks me a grandmother! said Mademoiselle, laughing more than ever. Go then, and be not more naughty than you must.

*     *     *

Well, what luck? the others asked.

It's all right, said Gerald indifferently. I told you it would be. The ingenuous youth won the regard of the foreign governess, who in her youth had been the beauty of her humble village.

I don't believe she ever was. She's too stern, said Kathleen.

Ah! said Gerald, "that's only because you don't know how to manage her. She wasn't stern with me."

I say, what a humbug you are though, aren't you? said Jimmy.

No, I'm a dip—what's-its-name? Something like an ambassador. Dipsoplomatist—that's what I am. Anyhow, we've got our day, and if we don't find a cave in it my name's not Jack Robinson.

Mademoiselle, less stern than Kathleen had ever seen her, presided at supper, which was bread and treacle spread several hours before, and now harder and drier than any other food you can think of. Gerald was very polite in handing her butter and cheese, and pressing her to taste the bread and treacle.

Bah! it is like sand in the mouth—of a dryness! Is it possible this pleases you?

No, said Gerald, it is not possible, but it is not polite for boys to make remarks about their food!

She laughed, but there was no more dried bread and treacle for supper after that.

"How do you do it?" Kathleen whispered admiringly as they said good-night.

Oh, it's quite easy when you've once got a grown-up to see what you're after. You'll see, I shall drive her with a rein of darning cotton after this.

Next morning Gerald got up early and gathered a little bunch of pink carnations from a plant which he found hidden among the marigolds. He tied it up with black cotton and laid it on Mademoiselle's plate. She smiled and looked quite handsome as she stuck the flowers in her belt.

Do you think it's quite decent, Jimmy asked later—sort of bribing people to let you do as you like with flowers and things and passing them the salt?

It's not that, said Kathleen suddenly. "I know what Gerald means, only I never think of the things in time myself. You see, if you want grown-ups to be nice to you the least you can do is to be nice to them and think of little things to please them. I never think of any myself. Jerry does; that's why all the old ladies like him. It's not bribery. It's a sort of honesty—like paying for things."

Well, anyway, said Jimmy, putting away the moral question, we've got a ripping day for the woods.

They had.

The wide High Street, even at the busy morning hour almost as quiet as a dream-street, lay bathed in sunshine; the leaves shone fresh from last night's rain, but the road was dry, and in the sunshine the very dust of it sparkled like diamonds. The beautiful old houses, standing stout and strong, looked as though they were basking in the sunshine and enjoying it.

"But are there any woods?" asked Kathleen as they passed the market-place.

It doesn't much matter about woods, said Gerald dreamily, "we're sure to find something. One of the chaps told me his father said when he was a boy there used to be a little cave under the bank in a lane near the Salisbury Road; but he said there was an enchanted castle there too, so perhaps the cave isn't true either."

If we were to get horns, said Kathleen, and to blow them very hard all the way, we might find a magic castle.

If you've got the money to throw away on horns ... said Jimmy contemptuously.

Well, I have, as it happens, so there! said Kathleen. And the horns were bought in a tiny shop with a bulging window full of a tangle of toys and sweets and cucumbers and sour apples.

And the quiet square at the end of the town where the church is, and the houses of the most respectable people, echoed to the sound of horns blown long and loud. But none of the houses turned into enchanted castles.

So they went along the Salisbury Road, which was very hot and dusty, so they agreed to drink one of the bottles of gingerbeer.

We might as well carry the gingerbeer inside us as inside the bottle, said Jimmy, and we can hide the bottle and call for it as we come back.

Presently they came to a place where the road, as Gerald said, went two ways at once.

"That looks like adventures," said Kathleen; and they took the right-hand road, and the next time they took a turning it was a left-hand one, so as to be quite fair, Jimmy said, and then a right-hand one and then a left, and so on, till they were completely lost.

"Completely, said Kathleen; how jolly!"

And now trees arched overhead, and the banks of the road were high and bushy. The adventurers had long since ceased to blow their horns. It was too tiring to go on doing that, when there was no one to be annoyed by it.

Oh, kriky! observed Jimmy suddenly, let's sit down a bit and have some of our dinner. We might call it lunch, you know, he added persuasively.

So they sat down in the hedge and ate the ripe red gooseberries that were to have been their dessert.

And as they sat and rested and wished that their boots did not feel so full of feet, Gerald leaned back against the bushes, and the bushes gave way so that he almost fell over backward. Something had yielded to the pressure of his back, and there was the sound of something heavy that fell.

O Jimminy! he remarked, recovering himself suddenly; "there's something hollow in there—the stone I was leaning against simply went!"

I wish it was a cave, said Jimmy; but of course it isn't.

If we blow the horns perhaps it will be, said Kathleen, and hastily blew her own.

Gerald reached his hand through the bushes. I can't feel anything but air, he said; it's just a hole full of emptiness. The other two pulled back the bushes. There certainly was a hole in the bank. I'm going to go in, observed Gerald.

Oh, don't! said his sister. I wish you wouldn't. Suppose there were snakes!

Not likely, said Gerald, but he leaned forward and struck a match. "It is a cave!" he cried, and put his knee on the mossy stone he had been sitting on, scrambled over it, and disappeared.

A breathless pause followed.

You all right? asked Jimmy.

Yes; come on. You'd better come feet first—there's a bit of a drop.

I'll go next, said Kathleen, and went—feet first, as advised. The feet waved wildly in the air.

Look out! said Gerald in the dark; "you'll have my eye out. Put your feet down, girl, not up. It's no use trying to fly here—there's no room."

He helped her by pulling her feet forcibly down and then lifting her under the arms. She felt rustling dry leaves under her boots, and stood ready to receive Jimmy, who came in head first, like one diving into an unknown sea.

"It is a cave," said Kathleen.

The young explorers, explained Gerald, blocking up the hole of entrance with his shoulders, dazzled at first by the darkness of the cave, could see nothing.

Darkness doesn't dazzle, said Jimmy.

I wish we'd got a candle, said Kathleen.

Yes, it does, Gerald contradicted—could see nothing. But their dauntless leader, whose eyes had grown used to the dark while the clumsy forms of the others were bunging up the entrance, had made a discovery.

JIMMY CAME IN HEAD FIRST, LIKE ONE DIVING INTO AN UNKNOWN SEA.

Oh, what! Both the others were used to Gerald's way of telling a story while he acted it, but they did sometimes wish that he didn't talk quite so long and so like a book in moments of excitement.

He did not reveal the dread secret to his faithful followers till one and all had given him their word of honour to be calm.

We'll be calm all right, said Jimmy impatiently.

Well, then, said Gerald, ceasing suddenly to be a book and becoming a boy, there's a light over there—look behind you!

They looked. And there was. A faint greyness on the brown walls of the cave, and a brighter greyness cut off sharply by a dark line, showed that round a turning or angle of the cave there was daylight.

Attention! said Gerald; at least, that was what he meant, though what he said was 'Shun! as becomes the son of a soldier. The others mechanically obeyed.

You will remain at attention till I give the word 'Slow march!' on which you will advance cautiously in open order, following your hero leader, taking care not to tread on the dead and wounded.

I wish you wouldn't! said Kathleen.

There aren't any, said Jimmy, feeling for her hand in the dark; he only means, take care not to tumble over stones and things.

Here he found her hand, and she screamed.

It's only me, said Jimmy. I thought you'd like me to hold it. But you're just like a girl.

Their eyes had now begun to get accustomed to the darkness, and all could see that they were in a rough stone cave, that went straight on for about three or four yards and then turned sharply to the right.

Death or victory! remarked Gerald. Now, then—Slow march!

He advanced carefully, picking his way among the loose earth and stones that were the floor of the cave. A sail, a sail! he cried, as he turned the corner.

How splendid! Kathleen drew a long breath as she came out into the sunshine.

I don't see any sail, said Jimmy, following.

The narrow passage ended in a round arch all fringed with ferns and creepers. They passed through the arch into a deep, narrow gully whose banks were of stones, moss-covered; and in the crannies grew more ferns and long grasses. Trees growing on the top of the bank arched across, and the sunlight came through in changing patches of brightness, turning the gully to a roofed corridor of goldy-green. The path, which was of greeny-grey flagstones where heaps of leaves had drifted, sloped steeply down, and at the end of it was another round arch, quite dark inside, above which rose rocks and grass and bushes.

It's like the outside of a railway tunnel, said James.

It's the entrance to the enchanted castle, said Kathleen. Let's blow the horns.

Dry up! said Gerald. The bold Captain, reproving the silly chatter of his subordinates——

I like that! said Jimmy, indignant.

I thought you would, resumed Gerald—of his subordinates, bade them advance with caution and in silence, because after all there might be somebody about, and the other arch might be an ice-house or something dangerous.

What? asked Kathleen anxiously.

Bears, perhaps, said Gerald briefly.

There aren't any bears without bars—in England, anyway, said Jimmy. They call bears bars in America, he added absently.

Quick march! was Gerald's only reply.

And they marched. Under the drifted damp leaves the path was firm and stony to their shuffling feet. At the dark arch they stopped.

There are steps down, said Jimmy.

"It is an ice-house," said Gerald.

Don't let's, said Kathleen.

Our hero, said Gerald, who nothing could dismay, raised the faltering hopes of his abject minions by saying that he was jolly well going on, and they could do as they liked about it.

If you call names, said Jimmy, you can go on by yourself. He added, So there!

IT'S THE ENTRANCE TO THE ENCHANTED CASTLE, SAID KATHLEEN.

It's part of the game, silly,

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  • (5/5)
    What a fun book! Surprising magic. Find an enchanted castle and a sleeping princess. Oops, not, it's not enchanted and she's not a princess. A magic room of jewels? A ring that makes you invisible? Just kidding. Oops -- NOT kidding! Ugly-Wugglies for a pretend audience? Oops, not so pretend. Those ugly-wugglies were just plain creepy. An unexpected delight.
  • (4/5)
    Lovely story, very much an old-fashioned fairytale. You can definitely see how her style influenced C.S. Lewis.
  • (4/5)
    An interestingly quirky story - like many Nesbits, a mix of fantasy and utter down-to-earth-ness. Shall we follow the Princess into the Enchanted Castle? Yes, but I want my tea... It switches, rapidly and repeatedly, from kids playing to magic to deep magic and back, and never loses the thread of the story. The governess and the lord was pretty obvious as soon as we learned about it; the burglars went off in some interesting directions. The mystery of the ring and its changeability is nicely handled - and turns out to be much deeper than a single magical artifact (though I do wonder about the other oddities in the treasure room). Fun to read (well, the kids bickering got annoying at times, but not too bad), an interesting story - and a possibly too simple and rounded-off ending. I enjoyed it, and may reread.
  • (3/5)
    My brother and I were given this about the same time as The Magic City but I did not like it as well.
  • (5/5)
    A wonderfully written story of magic and Englishness--Nesbit at her strongest--brilliantly read by Johanna Ward.
  • (4/5)
    A childhood favourite - one of those books that's out of copyright now and freely available, even though I gave my own copy away years ago. It was fun to re-read as an adult: Edith Nesbit's style of writing is still just as wonderful to me now as it was when I was ten. She had a great knack of understanding life through a child's eyes and presenting her story from a child's point of view, while still putting her authorial stamp on the text.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting kids book with fun interjections by the author about life and how things work. These three siblings find an enchanted castle during their summer holidays and then find a magical ring. While they have fun they also learn about responsibility.It's extrememly dated but it is fun.
  • (5/5)
    In which the castle turns out to be enchanted in a most unexpected way. A wholly enjoyable Edwardian delight.
  • (4/5)
    There are two types of enchantment in this book. One is the everyday sort, evidenced by how enthralled the reader might be as they proceed through the book, and especially by the young charmer Gerald who sweet-talks his way through pretty much every situation. This is enchantment that lives up to the term's origins, where chanting, speaking, singing and silent perusal of words creates the magic that keeps us literally in its spell.Then there is the sort of enchantment that manifests itself most strikingly in this book, the kind described eloquently by Nesbit herself in Chapter Nine: "There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs forever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real. And when once people have found one of the little weak spots in that curtain which are marked by magic rings, and amulets and the like, almost anything may happen." And in 'The Enchanted Castle' they inevitably do.The theme of the book can be described as "Be careful what you wish for." Siblings Gerald, Kathleen and James find themselves absolutely free to enjoy their affluent middle-class summer holiday in a West of England private school, near the village of Liddlesby. A youthful expedition takes them into the grounds of Yalding Castle where they meet with housekeeper's daughter Mabel and find that magic of the everyday sort gets rapidly superceded by enchantment that makes their holidays unforgettable.Nesbit wrote for a middle-class audience of more than a century ago and sensibilities in manners and language have shifted over that time, but not so much that we can't have sympathy for the children that Nesbit has conjured up for this tale. Witty resourceful Gerald steals the show but Mabel impresses too, and Mademoiselle's literal translations into English of French vocabulary and idioms are well and humorously observed. The joyous culmination of the enchantments has much in common with The Piper at the Gates of Dawn chapter of the nearly contemporary 'Wind in the Willows'; both works perhaps were a kind of final golden vision of Edwardian England before the horrors of the Great War were visited on all and sundry.
  • (4/5)
    What impressed me the most is Nesbit's writing style.A close second is the old-fashioned fairytale charm of the book.The characters are wonderful, and so are their adventures.With magic rings, non-living alive creatures, kindly marble gods and overly elongated young girls, it capture the readers without falling down the cliff of far-fetchyness.The theme of fantasy meets reality works extremely well and keeps the story truthful and alive.The perfect classic for a rainy day's worth of reading.
  • (5/5)
    Fantasy of three siblings and a friend who come upon a ring that makes them disappear, or turn into statues, or do other wonderful things. At the heart of the magic is wishing for an enchanted life with all questions answered and a stunning ray of moonlight that makes the world beautiful. There is a horrible scare when a bunch of fake people made of broomsticks and cast off clothing come to life, but the brave resourceful hero of the piece figures out how to get rid of them.

  • (4/5)
    Four English children discover the magic of a ring, a castle, true love, and many adventures. How amazing that over 100 years later this story still enchants children and adults alike. The mix of magic with everyday life is brilliant! My children and I enjoyed reading this story that inspired other fabulous authors like C.S. Lewis. We're grateful for Nesbit's creativity that not only kept us spellbound, but also opened the way for many of the modern fantasy books that we love.
  • (1/5)
    Words cannot describe how much this book sucked!
  • (4/5)
    Gerry, Jimmy and Kathleen have to stay at Kathleen's boarding school one holiday, due to illness elsewhere. They are loosely in the charge of the French mistress, but Gerry manages to charm her and they have a great deal of freedom. They start to explore the neighbourhood and stumble across a castle with, so it seems, a young princess who has been asleep for 100 years.

    The princess turns out to be Mabel, who befriends the children and shows them some 'magic', using tricks of the castle, only to discover that a particular ring is indeed magical, granting various wishes with a variety of consequences...

    The idea is somewhat similar to that of the better-known 'Five Children and It', but with more of a theme of castles and jewels, and the ongoing plot of trying to be nice to the somewhat sad mam'selle who is staying in the school. Sometimes amusing, in a low-key way, this was quite fun to read, although the Kindle version was rather poorly converted, meaning that a lot of the punctuation was missing, making it jar somewhat as I read.

    I'm not sure if I ever read this as a child, but I enjoy classic children's fiction, so was pleased to find it free for my Kindle. I assume that in book format it would be easier to read.

    Intended for children aged around 8-11, the language is inevitably dated, since the book was first published in 1907. Some of the concepts may seem rather naive, even unpleasant - yet E Nesbit gets nicely into the mind of children, and has produced an enjoyable story. Recommended.
  • (3/5)
    When it was good, it was very, very good, and when it was bad.... Well, let's just say reading the line, "You look like a nigger," made me really glad I'd weeded this from my media center. And what was up with the illustration of that little girl sitting at the feet of the naked Greek god? Maybe that was okay a hundred years ago, but let's face it, the gods better get themselves some fig leaves these days. Good parts: I liked the somewhat smarmy older brother's character. Charm, I find, appears to be a lost art among adolescents these days. He could certainly work his way around that French governess. Also, it had been a long, long time since I'd read any Nesbit, and I was expecting something a little more cuddly. This had some SCARY bits. The Ugly-Wuglies totally creeped me out, though I liked the idea of one of them ending up as a London financier.
  • (4/5)
    I'm surprised this "classic" isn't more well-known. The story is quite good, with many surprising twists, wonders, and genuine creepiness. It reminds of some very old fairy tales, in the way magic plays by rules that it takes a long time to understand and it's not always clear what's happeneing and if it's good or bad. Recommended.
  • (3/5)
    Let me preface this by saying it is a very interesting book, and that I may reveal some things in the story (although not the plot—the plot isn't standard, though, it seems: it's more adventure-driven on a case-by-case basis, kind of like a collection of stories about the same people, only linked together, except for the end, which contrasts differently).It is a children's book, of course, so don't expect everything to be as tightly done and seemingly sensical as your average novel.I like the characterization in this story. Gerald sticks out as being quite different from characters in other books of E. Nesbit's, although he may have some similarities, he also has some important differences in style. Mabel is mostly different, too, though maybe she is a tad like the mermaid in Wet Magic. Jimmy is a lot like H. O. in The Treasure Seekers. Kathleen is similar to other girls in E. Nesbit's books (and though similar she is still unique).Historically, this book is noteworthy. It portrays a lot of ideas revisited by other works later on (such as the invisibility ring that lets you see other things while you wear it, and statues that come alive at night—not to mention the dinosaur). I should note that this book was published when Tolkien was just a kid, and ages before Night at the Museum had been conceived.E. Nesbit even hits on an idea I had been (and still am) planning to use myself for a series, although I should probably be quiet about that for now, but I should note that my version of the idea takes place in a largely different framework and in a more structured/intricate fashion—nevertheless, I was surprised to see it (or the hint of it, at least).I like the first 75% of the book most, I think. The ending wraps things up more quickly and neatly than is typical for E. Nesbit, but it seems like something is missing (sort of). I probably would have liked the book more if she had made up something new in place of the mythological gods used, though, as that kind of interferes with my imagining that it as real (since the gods make it obviously religiously different from what I believe and all, and that sort of adds a bitter taste to it), but oh well. I guess I don't have to imagine it's real to like it.